Despite apologizing months ago for the infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" recording of his vulgar comments about women, President Donald Trump is now privately questioning the authenticity of the video capturing his exchange with television host Billy Bush, according to sources.
The confirmation that Trump has raised doubts about the video to advisers in recent weeks stands in contrast to at least two instances in which he discussed the video’s content without denying it or raising questions about its veracity.
’I said it, I was wrong and I apologize’
Hours after the 2005 recording was released Oct. 7, 2016, then-candidate Trump made his first public statement about the comments, in which he said "when you're a star" women let men "do anything," including "grab them by the p----."
"Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize," Trump said in a video statement he released on his social media accounts that evening.
"I never said that I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not," he said at another point in the video.
Here is my statement. pic.twitter.com/WAZiGoQqMQ— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2016
’This is locker room talk’
Then, two days later on Oct. 9, he faced live questioning about the tapes during the second presidential debate.
Co-moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump about the tape, saying that Trump "described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?"
"No, I didn’t say that at all," Trump responded. "I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk."
Cooper continued to question Trump about it, asking again, "are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?"
"I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do," Trump said.
"So, for the record, you’re saying you never did that?" Cooper said.
"I’ve said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women," Trump said.
"Have you ever done those things?" Cooper said.
"And women have respect for me. And I will tell you: No, I have not," Trump said, before pivoting to his plan to make America safe.